In a recent article, we looked at the City Parking fees that had been hiked to US$1 per hour. Due to public outrage, the Harare City had reverted to the old charges. They had also indicated that they would do some consultations and come up with new charges. Well, they have finally come up with new charges which I shall be looking at herein. I shall also be looking at the app discount that they have also introduced. I will discuss all that more in this article with obviously some commentary.

City Parking Public Notice

First off I am going to cite the public notice that City Parking recently issued. It reads as follows:

This notice serves to inform the motoring public that, following wide consultations with the motoring public by City of Harare and City Parking, on-street parking tariff in Harare CBD has been adjusted as follows:

  • ZWL$50 per hour
  • ZWL$45 per hour on our mobile app (park assist) platform

 The adjustments are with effect from the 20th of July 2020.

Download our mobile app – ‘PARK ASSIST’ from Google Play Store for greater parking convenience and enjoy lower parking tariff.

Motorists who park for long duration are encouraged to make use of our safe, secure and affordable parkades and parking lots.”

Let Us Discuss…

Worthy of the first mention is the new tariff structure. I believe ZWL$50 is much more reasonable than US$1 though I still think it is too high. Roughly that amount is about US$0.50 depending on the variant exchange rates considerations. Someone in need of 8 hours of secure parking every working day would need ZWL$400 per day. That could mean that commuting would be cheaper than driving into town given the parking costs. For all intents and purposes I feel the tariff should be further reviewed downwards. City Parking has indicated that if you pay using their mobile app you get a ZWL$5 discount. It is not much but it is an incentive to encourage people to use the mobile app. Let me delve more into this mobile app element.

City Parking Mobile App – A Critical Look

In Zimbabwe, the uptake of mobile apps is still a rocky terrain. There is an appreciable number of homegrown apps that are in use. I could name quite a number of them actually – that is commendable. However, there are still hurdles that stand in the way. For starters, the lion’s share of the local population is rural and yet most of those people do not have smartphones. Secondly, those rural areas are generally characterised by erratic network strength.

Then we have the issue of data charges – many people find it expensive to buy data. The common scenario is that many people prioritize WhatsApp bundles more than anything else. Even for those WhatsApp bundles, many still struggle to consistently have them.  I am painting a picture as to why the widespread usage of mobile apps is still elusive locally. City Parking mobile app initiative might also be a victim of the circumstances I have just explained.

The ZWL$5 discount might not be alluring enough for someone to use the mobile app. It would not be surprising to find people preferring to just use the usual way. It is also of interest whether or not the mobile app will be smooth to use. It is an all too common occurrence locally that tech-based stuff tends to not deliver as is expected. I am not downplaying the City Parking mobile app but I think it still waits to be seen how it will fare.

Overall, this is an ingenious way to promote the use of the City Parking mobile app. I would recommend that City Parking conduct wide-reaching awareness campaigns to encourage people to use the app. I have noticed that most mobile app developers locally do not do enough to raise public awareness of their innovations. That is why I would encourage City Parking to do much more to inform and encourage the public. They must leverage social media – for instance, they must work with social media influencers. All in all, it is a great initiative with huge potential in the future.